The custom of giving at least two foods and in a bag on Purim or Mishloach Manot comes form the Book of Esther. It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews and their neighbors.
According to the tradition every Jews over the age of Bar and Batmitzvah should send a food gift consisting of two different types of food to at least one recipient. The practice is a fairly common custom of Purim. I recall when children were at school we used to go the market and buy up lots of sweets and fruits and put them in small bags and distribute them at school and to neighbours and friends
In Israel people send Mishloach Manot to soldiers; it is usually done by the relatives or friends of the soldiers, though children also send mishloach manot often to unrelated soldiers.
The custom is joyful and is another way of binding the community together.
This intriguing design shows the story of Purim from beginning to almost end. With Esther at first appearing before the king, then Mordechai riding on the horse through the town. I love looking for curious images for the festivals it is a labour of love.
- Mishloach manot must be sent and delivered during the daylight hours of Purim.
- Children over the age of six or seven are also encouraged to send mishloach manot to their friends as training for the performance of a mitzvah
- Mishloach manot are not sent to a mourner. The mourner himself is obligated to send mishloach manot, but the package should not be too elaborate. According to some opinions, a mourner should send to only one person
- Mishloach manot can be delivered personally, but it is customary to deliver the food packages via a third party. Children are often involved in this mitzvah as the go-betweens between the giving parties, and are rewarded with sweets and treats for their efforts
- One is not obligated to send mishloach manot as a reciprocal gesture to the sender.
- While the halacha only calls for the giving of two food gifts to one friend, a person who gives mishloach manot to more than one person is called praiseworthy. However, it is better to give more charity on Purim day than to spend more money on elaborate mishloach manot